Wholehearted

From Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown

I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11 & 36; Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8.

Lord of Creation, create in me a dynamic and resilient heart of flesh. And may my own well-being, and my concern for all your children, be a True Prayer that accomplishes much good. Amen


Brené Brown says that we belong to one another. This universal reality can be forgotten, but it can never be lost. Her research in recent years has confirmed to the world that there is an uncomfortable, life-supporting link between vulnerability and courage.

Dr. Brown has made famous a saying: Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart. The moment I heard the saying and read the full quote by Roshi Joan Halifax, I thought of the voice of God who speaks: I will give all my children One, soft heart. Though you are fractured and hurting, I will replace your broken chards-of-heart with a Whole one–strong, soft, wise, hopeful and full of faith.

All scripture speaks of this vision. When the Apostle Paul wrote about creation groaning and waiting for redemption, I wonder if this is what we he meant– for the heart of stone to become a heart of flesh. These passages and themes are really about the universal healing of creation and can be applied at the individual and communal level any time the user chooses. Our redemption is an ongoing process and God only knows when it will feel finished to us. This renovation of creatures and communities is God’s purpose; and it shall be so.

Remember: The good that God has begun in you will be completed through the Spirit of the Living Christ working in you.

Spiritual Practice

This post is not aimed at racism, protests and violence. Such horrors can only be healed at the level of cause. My reflections pertain to this community and our emotional health and well-being. Never underestimate the healing power of your own humanity-in-Christ and your prayers for the well-being of your neighbors and the whole world.

Be safe. And be a healing presence wherever you are. I happen to be visiting my Dad in Salmon Idaho, looking out the window at the continental divide. Had a good, long, steep hike this morning.

Breathe,
Katie

Clean

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.  Marie Kondo

God of Creation, help us to adopt new health practices which enhance our lives and promote the safety and happiness of our homes and neighborhoods. Amen.


I’m super jazzed about a new term I just learned from a hog farmer: biosecurity.

Brad Greenway raises pigs on a farm near Mitchell, S.D., and the measures we are taking to stay germ-safe during this pandemic are things Brad always practices. When he arrives back at the farm after errands, he showers, puts on fresh clothes and wipes down the supplies he’s bringing into the barn. He says, “We’ve always tried to practice good biosecurity.”

I think back to the lessons I learned from my Grandmother in her kitchen. Being a farmer herself, she taught me things like: How to wash up the counters, carving knife and kitchen sink after cleaning and prepping a turkey or chicken for roasting. She had a utility sink near the back door and emphasized hand washing and scrubbing under one’s fingernails with a stiff brush, because “that’s where the germs can hide.” Baby diapers, sheets and towels were hung on the line to dry, because “the sunshine is a natural disinfectant.”

(I also have my own biosecurity theory: I think tequila kills germs in the throat and cures colds. Go ahead and laugh… as my kids do. It’s what I believe and for good reason:)

Spiritual Practice

This pandemic is a fantastic opportunity to develop new habits that protect our health.

My grandparents were fastidious about biosecurity because they raised crops and livestock and because their generation was fairly new to the germ theory of medicine. People in their neighborhood had died of trichinosis or salmonella.

What can we be fastidious about NOW? Handwashing for sure…

I spent a couple of weeks in Hong Kong ten years ago. SARS had converted the whole society to mask-wearing whenever a person is ill or susceptible to illness. Analysts credit Hong Kong’s health in this pandemic to mask wearing in the early days of the outbreak. If masks don’t help, the hyper-intelligent residents of Hong Kong would NOT have permanently converted to the practice. Masks help!

Vitamin D? Drinking ginger tea? Staying hydrated? These are all practices that enhance our biosecurity.

And still there is no shame in falling ill. Our best efforts cannot guaranty our safety. Farmer Brad’s storyteller remarks: Even stringent methods run up against natural limits. One is found in the pits beneath a hog farm, which gather the roughly 1.3 gallons of manure each hog produces a day. It’s clean, but it still smells. Pigs poop a lot.

Have a nice evening. Be sure to wash your hands and brush your teeth. The future of the universe depends on us and God!

Katie

Process

The Spirit of Christ is within us, inspiring creativity as a way of life. Ephesians 2

Creator God, why do I resist the creative process in my own life? Help me enjoy my life as a work in progress. Help me celebrate the creative process in other lives as well. Amen


It’s been almost three months since we moved into our newly remodeled house, and we’ve averaged a couple of big move-in chores per day ever since. First it was the beds, then the clothes, the kitchen and the furniture. Yesterday Dave finished the sprinkler system, and now he’s into earth-moving, manure and grass seed. Yippee! Today I’m washing summer blankets that smell like cardboard boxes. This evening we plan to hang some artwork. On second thought, I’m done working today, and the artwork will have to wait for tomorrow or next year.

Why is this move-in taking so long? Two good reasons: 1.) The world is experiencing a pandemic, some symptoms of which I pray are beginning to recede in your life. And speaking of life, 2.) I’m still trying to live mine—exercising, socializing with family, washing clothes, cooking for fun, working a meaningful job, watching movies, reading, expecting my first grandchild, and getting the travel trailer ready for a road trip to Montana. So truthfully, there will be little progress made on the yard or artwork until late-June.

And while it’s easy for us to feel behind or overwhelmed about the business of life, the important thing to remember is that EVERYTHING is ALWAYS a work in progress. Not because we are unable to finish something, but because life and work is a continual process. One who is unwilling to embrace this reality will never be happy and will spread their misery far and wide.

I hope this pandemic has helped you move closer to accepting process-orientation as a healthy state of life and not some kind of failure. Process-orientation is a term used by helping professionals who walk with people through challenging times. Therapists, life coaches and other guides are held accountable for allowing clients to evolve without the pressure to perform or reach the helper’s goals. Shouldn’t we extend the same grace to ourselves? If process-orientation is important in therapy, isn’t it important in everything?

Spiritual Practice

Right now, I’m looking at the evolving backyard. On the one hand it looks like a lot of dirt; and I can smell manure. On the other hand, it looks fresh and new and ready to get growing.

What is unfinished and evolving in your life? (That’s a trick question. The answer is: Everything!) Where are you in the process? And how can “behind” be reframed as “on the way?”

Take courage,
Katie

Illness as a Messenger

May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
John O’Donohue


Before I write about the hope of springtime, I want to say something about illness.

Illness is a messenger. When your body takes ill, it’s speaking. When a social illness erupts in a family, there is a message for the family leader/s. When a church or corporation turns toxic, it’s time to listen up big time. When a pandemic strikes the earth, there is an important message for her inhabitants.

And when it’s a pandemic, I can’t help but think the message is for the whole global community, rather than for a specific individual; although illness amidst pandemic speaks to individually infected people and families as well.

You may think I’m crazy for saying these things, but many of you know what I’m talking about. To soften the claim let me explain:

The message of illness is not a shaming or hurtful message. It’s always a sign of hope for your wellbeing. Your body has been created by God to care enough about you to speak up and help you heal. And so too, the earth that God created and loves always cares enough to speak to her inhabitants when we are hurting.

Everything I’ve just said is an oversimplification of a life principle, which is never straightforward and calls for careful interpretation.

Tonight, I just wanted to name it. To get it off my chest. To ask us to begin thinking about it. This pandemic is a messenger.

Spiritual Practice

To get us started thinking about the hopeful possibilities, here is a blessing from the late John O’Donohue, a poet, theologian and philosopher.

A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness
by John O’Donohue


Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.
You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;
Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.
May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.
May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.
May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

Sleep peacefully,
Katie

Pilgrimage

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

God who leads us safely through the varied terrain of life. Help us travel with wonder and purpose. Amen


This week’s evening drop series has been dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” Where do runners get their strength? This Friday evening, I want to celebrate the power of pilgrimage.

I spent my 50th birthday on the tiny Island of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland. The trip was a pilgrimage with a close group of scholars and spiritual directors. That morning I took a solo walk to the north coast on the Irish Sea. It was raining, and the wind was blowing hard. I remember talking to God and saying, “The first 50 years have been been quite a climb– growing up, raising children, learning a vocation– I’m ready now to walk downhill, with the wind on my back and sunshine on my shoulders.

Well, my life still feels like ‘climbing mountains in rain gear’, and I suspect I will feel that way for as long as I have air in my lungs.

Life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, and we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Pilgrimage Psalms (Psalms 120-134) were sung by traveling families as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.

It is my opinion that travel changes a person and strengthens a family. In all my travels I can feel my pilgrim’s heart. What does this journey mean? Who might I meet? What can I experience in this new place that will open the eyes of my heart? Perhaps I just love traveling-with-a-purpose so much that I make it one of the highest priorities of my life.

Don’t misunderstand. We’re not a fancy family with lots of funds. Neither Dave nor I had parents who took us places other than National Forest campgrounds and southern Minnesota! (Things we love and visit to this day.) Most of our travels have been with a pop-up trailer and four kids. We were pilgrims to the Grand Tetons, the Olympic Rainforest, the Canadian Rockies, the Outer Banks, Yosemite and Big Sur…

I think God saw how happy we were on these trips, and God helped us reach for more. Somehow we found a way to visit friends in England and family in Bavaria. In seminary I got to know South America. When Sarah was studying in Spain, the two of us made pilgrimage to Rome one Holy Week. And then I was hell bent on Iona. And last week I got hell bent on Jerusalem.

Spiritual Practice

And that brings me to the whole point. Let’s plan a pilgrimage NOW! I don’t know who you are and what is possible for you. But let’s all pick a place to go for our next trip, put it on the calendar and plan it out.

Safe, close spots include: Steamboat Lake, Chambers Lake, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Chasm Lake, Pawnee National Grassland, the top of Pike’s Peak… Can you travel further away? I love Moab, Santa Fe and the Anasazi Ruins. The moment it’s possible, I’ll be on a plane to NYC to pilgrim-around with Ryan and Sarah.

Life is a pilgrimage, and literal pilgrimage has a purpose in the spiritual life. What kind of travel has changed you? What have been your happiest moments on the road?

Sweet dreams,
Katie

We Run

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12

God who goes first and God who empowers, forgive our tendency to shrink back. Give us courage to risk uncertainty and run the race marked out for us. Amen


This week’s evening drop series is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” And tonight, I want to celebrate the strength of runners.

There is a certain bravery needed for running, which doesn’t apply to walking. Running will bring you to places of depletion, pain and self-doubt. Sometimes we enter these states during a single run; other times they come to us over the course of a season. If you’re a runner you know what it’s like to wake up with shin splints or be furloughed by a stress fracture. These setbacks occur in the spiritual journey as well as the running life.

I’ve already confessed that I prefer to walk. Walking is enjoyable for me. I also enjoy trusting God and opting out of the rat race and competition of modern life. My fantasy is to walk the contemplative journey companioned by God and other enlightened people. But the life of faith is rarely that way, because there are relational heartbreaks, vocational train wrecks and financial ruins to deal with. You can’t opt out of running with the bulls, or running from the bears—even if you’re a spiritual advisor, a yogi master or a well-set retiree.

Life is dangerous, and sometimes we must run. Life is also exhilarating, and sometimes God invites you to pick up the pace and run headlong into the face of uncertainty. This is faith.

Spiritual Practice

In the Daring Way™ we talk about knowing our arena—being clear about the setting where we are called to show up, be seen and live bravely with our lives. During the Covid-19 crisis people are showing up in the arenas of parenting, neighboring and laboring. We work from home or we go to work in healthcare, grocery stores and meat packing plants. People are running hard into the arena of businesses and leadership—meeting payroll, forgiving rents-due, making tough decisions, keeping supply lines open, reorganizing for mission. My daughter Anne will give birth to my first grandchild during a plague. Many women are giving birth in an era of social distancing, with limited physical support. Many people have entered the arena of death, separated from their loved ones.

I’m sorry this Spring is not a walk in the park. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, but we’re not there the breathe them in. Whatever race you are running, Christ-in-you is REAL strength. A good spiritual practice is to name your “arena” or your “race.” Take a Post-It note and write, “My arena is ________.” Or, “I am running the race of ___________.” Put that Post-It where you will see it several times a day.

There are no guarantees about the race, and we will always be uncertain of the outcome. Faith means showing up and running anyway. You may not know where the race will lead you and what will happen along the way, but you are on the right track.

Every morning I jog out of my driveway and run at least two blocks before walking downhill to the river. I’d like to become a real runner, but currently I’m a walker who occasionally jogs. I’m waiting for running to become enjoyable, but I have my doubts about that ever happening.

Love you,
Katie

Hidden Strength

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145

God of hidden strength and goodness, forgive our tendency to trust in worldly systems and be intimidated by appearances. Give us faith to keep taking steps. Amen


This week’s evening drop is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking. Why does walking make us feel so good? Tonight I want to celebrate the spiritual power of walking by faith.

Walking by sight is an endless temptation. The phrase “walk by sight” means to live by what we can see. And most of what we see is the world’s systems of power and security. In Jesus’s day Rome had the power. Early in the Old Testament days, Pharaoh had the power. Bible stories told in each of these eras illustrate the futility of trying to influence our circumstances by tapping into the visible and obvious systems of power.

In this Covid-19 era there are visible systems of power: the economy, business, supply chains, governors, the president, the CDC, congress and the World Health Org—to name a few. To walk by sight in our day is to put our faith in these systems—to hope and believe that these systems have control over our well-being.

Against such a tiresome practice of walking by sight, the Apostle Paul urges us to “walk by faith”—to trust a power we cannot see. This is the gospel (Good News) that there is a hidden Goodness at work in the universe. The proof of this loving presence is the resurrection of Jesus, which is also reflected in every aspect of nature and every aspect of your life.

To walk by faith is to cooperate with a Reality deeper and more powerful than the markets, the government or the health care system.

Spiritual Practice

If we choose to, we learn to walk by faith during a lifetime of practice and growth. When we walk by sight we focus on the visible successes of our outward lives, and we experience regular discouragement. True Faith does not plan her course by those signs. Rather, she walks with a daily confidence that the power of God is always at hand.

Psalm 145 is about the power of God, which is hidden in all things. If you could use a dose of encouragement for your walk of faith, take a minute and read Psalm 145 aloud. Perhaps visualize or write down the worldly systems you are still hoping will come through for you. And then visualize the more hopeful and realistic truths described in this Psalm. If you had access to the levers of power in the world’s governments or the transformational power of God in creation, which would you choose?

Rest well,
Katie